Older blog entries for sisob (starting at number 17)

Having fun bouncing around Paris. Found q net connection but it's really hard to type on this french keyboard.

funrecords: please do put together a solid proposal for a document based interface model thingy; people will just get pissed off with the constant ranting the way they got pissed off at me;I'll review anything for you....

auspex: If you can get to everything on that list then Gnome is really going to get better over the next few months.


Last time I said I was taking a break from Open source I really didn't - I just couldn't stay away. But this time I'm going to another continent and I'm not bringing a laptop and will have limited net access. Gotta go un-subscribe from a few mailing lists. See you all on the 10th August :)

Usability Books

Ordered "Desiging from Both sides of the Screen" and "About Face 2.0" as recommended by Havoc and others. Will have them to read when I get back.


Came across this, the "Gentoo Linux Install Script". It's an dialog based console install script for Gentoo that aims to both take the pain out of installing Gentoo as well as letting you do all of the configuration at the beginning of the install, so that you can then leave it to install unwatched. I downloaded it, gave it a quick looking over and e-mailed the author with some usability ideas. He was very open to input and said he will use my ideas when he gets to improving the UI.

I've been hoping for a way to make the gentoo install more sane. It's not likely to be as easy as Redhat(TM) for quite a while, if ever, but using glis would make it easy enough for any windows power user. I think that this is a great compromise between the gtk2 install of redhat(using X on the install cd creates problems) and the needlessly hard install that Gentoo has atm.

This fits in quite well with my plans for a gnome distro. I could make a custom stage 3[1] livecd with glis as the installer and you could be up and running with the gnome linux desktop in <30mins. Using gentoo has the benefit that I can create a default package selection but the user will have a massive collection of software at their findertips - so they will get both the sensible "Just Works" environment by default, but if they are that way enclined they can partake the massive collection of software avaliable. Also, from a development point of view - it's much easier to write ebuilds that to produce rpm, I just need to find out how I go about making a customised stage3 tarball.

[1]Stage3 is a tarball of enough binary packages needed to make up a full graphical system. It makes gentoo quicker to install but you loose out on some of the optomisations. But you can still recompile everything later _after_ you have a running system, so I think that stage3 install is the way to go.


I think it's a pity that Zynot wont limit itself to embedded Linux and leave x86 to Gentoo. I have plans to do some work with the Zynot gnome/gpe developer, but I think that both he and I still think that Gentoo is where it is at for the desktop.

Distributed Usability Testing

This is something that I have been thinking about for quite a while. Usability testing costs money and Gnome is lucky enough to have sun investing in it's usability, but there is still a lot that can be done by us, the members of OSS projects.

I started thinking about distributed usability testing when my girlfriend started using my pc to check her e-mails. I was using Galeon as my browser at the time(epiphany now) and I filed 2 or 3 bug reports based on problems that she had. Issues that had not really occured to me but that made a lot of sense when she pointed them out.

So what is Distributed Usability Testing? it's testing carried out in a casual ongoing way. All of us have windows using friends and they are perfect to try out OSS software on. There are two way to do this IMHO:

1. If you have a friend/family memeber who understands how important OSS is to you and is willing to put up with doing some actual tasks then you can use them to perform an actual test, the way they are done in usability labs, except on a smaller scale. According to the statistics I think you need to have 5 or 6 people doing a usability test to find most of the problems. So if you can find 6 hackers/users with a friend who is willing to help then you have yourself a free usability test.

2. This way is more sneaky and less regemented. It involves doing usability tests on people who don't know they are being tested. They simplest example is the above story about my girlfriend: you just sit someone down infront of your opensource pc and let them try to use it. Make mental notes of the problems they encounter. Of course it is not always possible to bring people to you pc - so use a live cd like knopix. Tell them you want to show them Linux and see how well it works for them. I'm not suggesting you be blatently dishonest, a lot of the time you can just tell the person what you are doing. On the upside you are mixing Linux advogacy with Distributed Usability testing.

To fully capitalise on this Idea it would be necessary for some usability engineers (eg. the Gnome Usability Project) to make a guide to Distributed Usability testing and to regularly publish usability tests for use by the testers.

Another idea is to join forces with the soon to be created Gnome Marketing project and produce a Gnome Livecd suitable for increaing Gnome awareness as well as doing Distributed Usability testing. I'm going away tomo, but when I get back I may propose this mental idea to the Gnome Usability list.


Must get a better blog going next year - one that I can e-mail to like Jeff's.

Broken wrist

Fell off my bike comming down a hill yesterday morning and broke my right wrist. My god is it frustrating typing and using the mouse with my left hand. Am working on making sure this won't stop me getting to France.

Need help getting across spain Can anyone tell me how to get from Barcelona to Madrid? The renfe trains are all booked out when I need to go (1st or 2nd August) and plane is bloody expensive. If you have any ideas please mail me at sisobATeircomDOTnet

Just got back from Mayo(west of Ireland). Had a great week. Gnome has been doing pretty well since I've been gone :)

The gnome-themes-list has become really active since I posted to desktop-devel inviting people to discuss Beautifying Gnome. Jimmac and Tigert are involved as well as Luca and Lapo who are all producing great icons. Jimmac has added XD2 application icons as well as XD2 OpenOffice.org stock icons. I'm going to be going away in less than a week but as usual I've got the ball rolling and am not longer really needed..

End of Exams

I'm finished my exams - but not only that - I'm finished my sentence of 14 years in the 1st and 2nd level educations system. Off ot University next year Please-God.

Went out last night to celebrate and didn't get to sleep til 6am. Got up at 10am. There is stuff to be done in Gnome but I'm way too tired to do it. Trying to organise a weekend away with my friends, so Gnome will have to wait till next week.


Last night was the last night of the GUADEC and definatley the first time I've ever seen someone wearing a red hat while out on the town in Dublin. I was out with my girlfriend instead of the hackers, but I did see some of them pass by.

/me is Pissing off Gnome Hackers

It's a funny old internet: Some people really appreciate the bits and pieces of stuff I do for Gnome, but I've found out recently that I piss off a good few of the Gnome hackers. The funny thing is that if I was them I'd annoy me too. The problem is that I've been posting up waffly threads on the desktop-devel and usability lists wayyyy too much.

The thing is: I'm generally a really impatient person, and I've been sick recently(not just a cold... , ie. I've been sick for the last year) and I've had loads of time on my hands, but I've also not had the energy to do any proper coding really. So I've been keeping myself sane by hacking on and playing with Gnome - which has lead to some useful stuff done by me, but also a lot of spam to the lists.

So what I'm going to do to hopefully sort this out is this: I'm going away til August anyway, and when I get back I'll start contributing more and talking less. In particular I will think things through and do some research on them before I post to the lists: I've been posting too many streams of conciousness type e-mails. I'll try and keep random stupid discussion on gnomesupport.org.

If you are one of the people who I've annoyed in the last while, please e-mail me with any constructive advice you can give me as to how to stop pissing people off. If your one of the people who likes me, e-mail me anyway, I need to be cheered up ;(


Was in at the Guadec yesterday and this morning. It's really weird seeing all these people who I've only ever talked to online. I'm way better at getting to know people online than I am in real life. A room full of strangers really intimidates me. AlanHorkan says I people are likely to cut me more slack once they've met me. Unfortunately I've got exams til wed morning so I'll only get the second half of wednesday at the conference. Hopeing to find Jdub and talk to him about his Gnome Marketing ideas..

God, I sould like a sap, nih..


Two more exams to go - must go study, goddamn

10 Jun 2003 (updated 10 Jun 2003 at 19:28 UTC) »

I got in touch with the giFT developers a while back and we've made a lot of usability and UI improvments. It now automatically starts the giFT deamon if one is already running. We have some good plans for the future, but development is on hold atm while we wait for it to get imported into gnome cvs.

Gnome Beautification

I've been working recently with Luca Ferretti and Jimmac to improve Gnome's default appearance and to improve the icon theme. More details here: http://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-announce-list/2003-June/msg00042.html


XD2 Looks really sweet. I grabbed the ximain-artwork package and am now using the Industrial theme. Can't wait till I can get access to some bandwidth to download the rest of it. Still uses some gtk1 thought which is a pain. Can't wait to see all this stuff merged back into Gnome. In particular the big menus, network browsing, printer setup and enhanced control center.

Gnome 2.3.x

Am running this with Jhbuild. Still not stable enough to switch over too - panel has a bad crasher bug and the window list randomly becomes unusably tiny. Appart from that it's pretty sweet. Going to be ever sweeter if we can get some xd2 stuff in there.

Gnome Linux Desktop

I've had some more ideas for this - even a better name, and I have a very good idea of how it should work in my head, but unfortunatly it may be Gnome 2.6 until I am satisfied that gnome is "good enough". We still need some very basic things like a clipboard that keeps text even after an app has closed, and an internet dialer. Not to mention the fact that nautilus has still not replaced the command line for me. I still copy large amounts of files with cp because I don't trust nautilus and still have to use chmod from the command line. Don't get me wrong I love gnome - but I just don't think it's ready for the world of idiots out there.

Wrote this a while back about it: http://gnomesupport.org/wiki/index.php/GnomeLinuxDesktop?action=BackLinks


In the middle of the most important exams of my life and I don't get the results til August, shouldn't writing this, should be studying...


Not that this really belongs on Advogato, but I'm finished by chemotheraphy - hopefully forever. Am going away for a month and a half to recover and grow some hair :)

16 May 2003 (updated 16 May 2003 at 22:57 UTC) »
File Sharing for Linux/Gnome

I Recently found out on the Gentoo Forums that it is now possible to connect to the Kazaa network from linux without using a wined kazaa lite. I don't really have a personal interest in this as I'm on a modem connection. But for a lot of people I know kazaa is that "one app" that stops them ditching windows. So that is what has gotten me really excited about this.

Here's the story: giFT was started as an open source kazaa client, but then kazaa changed the protocal in such a way that rendered giFT useless, so giFT decided to start their own, fully open, filesharing protocal/network; and so OpenFT was born. But more recently someone cracked the kazaa encryption and wrote a FastTrack(ie. kazaa) plugin for giFT. So now we have OpenFT and giFT-FastTrack, as well as the gnutella plugin that comes with giFT: Making giFT the gaim of file sharing. You can use multiple networks at the same time!

giFT runs on multiple platforms, and there are two gtk2 clients for it(as well as kde, OsX, windows and linux-console clients), the better of which seems to be giFToxic. Development seems to be pretty slow, but I've e-mailed the list and am trying to get them going a bit.

The issue that I have with giFT/giFToxic is that too much of the internal of the system of the system are exposed to the user. eg. You must drop to a console and start the giFT deamon before giFToxic will work, and before giFT will work you have to run a console based configuration script that asks you obscure questions about ports, ip address and how reqularly you want your share synced amound other inane questions.

So what I hope to do is:
* Write a gtk2 configuration wizard that will ask less than ten questions instead of 20 or 30.
* Modify giFToxic so that it will run giFT if it is not already running (already mostly written a patch for this)
* Modify giFToxic so that if it runs and giFT is not configured it will launch the aformentioned wizard
* Create a settings dialog to complement the wizard.
* Try to integrate giFToxic with gnome some more. Give it a launcher and an icon, and maybe a notification area applet.

The general idea is that you can then install giFT and giFToxic from source or RPM or whatever, then run giFToxic and it will configure giFT for you and you'll be ready to go without ever having to drop to the console.

I got mentioned twice in the comments here: http://www.gnomedesktop.com/article.php?sid=1099&mode=&order=0

I'm so prowd :)

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